Eleven Things, Eleven Questions

8 05 2013

My dear – and now many-miles-distant – friend Melissa has tagged me with the Liebster Award, a fun, navel-gazing meme that’s been going around.


To start, I’m supposed to share 11 things about myself. I thought it would be interesting to think of eleven ways my life has changed since moving to Paris, so here we go:

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My 7 Links

21 08 2011

This 7 Links meme has been making its way around the internet, and it’s a fun one.  Jennifer of Chez Loulou tagged me for it, and I’ve been having fun going back through the archives – 410 posts in three and a half years! – to find posts that fit the criteria.

1. Most Beautiful

beautifully patterned tiles

The colorful tiled houses and intricate monastery architecture make my first post about our trip to Lisbon last winter an easy choice.

2. Most Popular

Airy Interior

Hands down, my most popular post by far is the one I wrote about gougères, entitled Cheesy Poofs Kick Ass!  This one post actually represents 1% of the total page views on my blog, ever, and it has more than six times the number of views of the next most popular post.  Was it the title?  The step-by-step photos?  I have other posts with clever titles, and good photos, but for some reason this one really caught on.  Maybe I should quote South Park more often.

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Stranded on a Desert Island…

22 10 2008

…with only 5 non-native ingredients!  Hope tagged me with this little exercise in restraint a while back, and I have probably WAY overthunk it by now.  The rules are as follows:

You are stranded on a desert island for an indefinite amount of time.  You can bring along five food items and are allowed one sentence to justify your decision.  It is an island so assume plentiful fish, coconuts, and sea salt.  Storage is not an issue, as you also have a large solar powered refrigerator.  Play along, tag who you want, and link back!

My thought process was long and convoluted.  The pastry chef in me insists on sugar and flour, but then I think that maybe I can figure out a way to get palm sugar out of the trees.  Luckily I like coconut, and coconut water is such a refreshing drink.  Then I start thinking about savory foods, and the ingredients that I use the most.  Onions and bacon immediately spring to mind.  Not sure I can live without tomatoes, and then it occurs to me that I need dairy!  What would I do without butter, cream, and cheese?  Though maybe I should be thinking about what goes well with fish.  Chili peppers and lime for ceviche and fish tacos?  Where am I going to get tortillas, though?  Got to have a starch, then, too.  Potatoes and rice are both so good and versatile.  Is bread allowed?  I’m really digging on winter squash lately, but that happens every year around this time.  I might get tired of it if it was all I had.  And it went on like that for several days.

At long last, I have settled on my list.  (Ask me next week and it could be completely different.)

1. Onions – Can’t cook without them, plain and simple.

2. Cream – So many uses on its own, plus it can be turned into butter or cheese!

3. Smoky, peppery bacon – It’s great with seafood, and a life without hog fat may not be worth living.

4. Potatoes – They’re just so much more comforting than rice.

5. Eggs – Fried, baked, boiled, scrambled, deviled, meringue, sabayon, hollandaise…  Mustard seeds – That way I could make my own mustard as well as grow some delicious greens!

Judging from my final list, I’d say France is the right place for me.

Now for the tags.  Cathy and Jody from Where’s My Damn Answer? because they visit often and leave comments, which I love.  Gloria from Cookbook Cuisine, because she posed a similar question a while back.  And Trisha from The Zest, because I think she’s a pretty creative cook.  Of course, feel free to play along even if I didn’t tag you, and for those of my readers without blogs, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

The Frenchie Fifteen

21 09 2008

Today I reached a milestone.  Seven months and three days after my first post, I have reached a total of 15,000 hits to my blog!  Not too shabby, considering the first 3 months I only got about 3,000.  So thank you all for reading and commenting and coming back to visit.  I really enjoy writing Croque-Camille, but it’s infinitely more gratifying when I know there are people out there who are enjoying the fruits of my labor.  (Not entirely unlike cooking, in that regard.)

To celebrate, I’m creating my own meme: The Frenchie Fifteen.  Fifteen foods that, to me, exemplify France and its rich culinary history.  Except it has 21 items, because it’s the 21st of September, and I just couldn’t whittle my list down any more. 

I had two sources of inspiration that led to this.  First, I went to a book reading on Thursday at WH Smith, one of the biggest English-language bookstores in Paris.  The author was Alexander Lobrano, and he was reading from his excellent book, Hungry for Paris.  It’s a restaurant guide, but rather than spare descriptions of the restaurants and their dishes, Lobrano invites us to dine with him, sharing anecdotes of memorable meals he’s had at each place.  Interspersed with the restaurant “portraits” are essays on French cuisine, restaurant culture, and a little autobiography for good measure.  It’s a great read.  Anyway, in the introduction, he discusses French food and what, specifically, that refers to.  The essay culminates in a list of 10 dishes Lobrano considers to be the answer to the question, “what is French food?”  His list differs from mine (there are, of course, some overlaps), mainly because it focuses on complete dishes, while I have chosen to include pastries, snacks, and drinks as well.

The second source of inspiration was the blog Joy of Desserts, where Joy celebrated her hundredth post by creating a meme called 100 for the Sweet Tooth.  (I played at home, but I find the rules a little unclear, so I’m not posting about it.)  Since I let my hundredth post go by without fanfare, I’m celebrating 15,000 hits instead.

So here’s my list of quintessential French foods, and the rules for playing along.  If you’re interested, I’ve listed some descriptions and reasoning behind my choices afterward.

But first, the rules:
– Copy/paste the list and rules into your blog, journal, or even a piece of paper.
– Put the foods you’ve had the pleasure of eating in bold. Elaborate and add stories as you see fit.
– If you’re so inclined, leave a comment on this post to let me know where to find your results.

The Frenchie Fifiteen

1. Croissant
2. Ratatouille
3. Lait cru cheese
4. Kir
5. Croque-Monsieur
6. Crème Caramel
7. Tartiflette
8. Pain Tradition
9. Cassoulet
10. Macarons
11. Aligot
12. Pissaladière
13. Pain de Campagne
14. Choucroute Garnie
15. Tarte Tatin
16. Pastis
17. Roast Chicken
18. Eclair
19. Lentil Salad
20. Entrecôte
21. Escargots

1. Croissant – Is there a single pastry with more French connotations than the buttery, flaky croissant?
2. Ratatouille – This provençal classic even got a movie named after it. Not being a big bell pepper fan, I usually riff on the idea in my own kitchen.
3. Lait cru cheese – One of the best things about living in France is the abundance of cheese and the ease of procuring cheeses made with raw milk. They are unfailingly more complex and delicious than their pasteurized counterparts. How ironic that it was a Frenchman who invented pasteurization in the first place.
4. Kir – When I first moved to France, right after college, I lived in a small town called Moulins-sur-Allier. The first week I was there, I had arranged to meet the other two Anglophones in town at a little brasserie called Bar Les Ducs. (I later learned that this was some kind of pun.) We asked the bartender to make us something French. He gave us Kir: a traditional apéritif made with white wine and a splash of crème de cassis.
5. Croque-Monsieur – The über-French ham sandwich with a gooey and crunchy cap of melted cheese on top. My co-workers eat these things like they’re going out of style. I also took the name for this blog from said sandwich.
6. Crème Caramel – Perhaps more commonly known as “flan,” this one is a classic. The shy, sophisticated sister of crème brûlée, This silky smooth custard is baked in a cup with caramel in the bottom so that when it’s unmolded, the dessert sauces itself.
7. Tartiflette – Potatoes, bacon, crème fraîche, onions, and cheese baked together, it’s a heart attack on a plate. One of Nick’s co-workers introduced me to this scrumptious and incredibly hearty dish, and I foresee a lot of variations on it happening this winter.
8. Pain Tradition – It looks like a baguette, but brother, it’s no ordinary baguette.
9. Cassoulet – May very well be the heaviest dish in France. There are three cities that lay claim to this slow-cooked bean-based delicacy: Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Castelnaudry. Depending on who you ask, it can contain duck or goose confit, pork, sausage, bacon, lamb, or mutton. Pick three and throw some bread crumbs on top. An awesome winter dinner.
10. Macarons – Frankly, I don’t get it, but people can’t get enough of these little almond meringue cookies.
11. Aligot – A specialty of the Auvergne region, aligot really sticks to your ribs. Puréed potatoes mixed with enough Tomme de Laguiole cheese to render a smooth, stretchy take on mashed potatoes. Best prepared tableside, for maximum theatrical effect.
12. Pissaladière – Few things showcase the flavors of Provence as simply and eloquently as this humble tart of caramelized onions, anchovy, olives, and thyme.
13. Pain de Campagne – The antithesis of the baguette, this large, round, hearty bread is usually made with rye flour and keeps for a few days. Great for sandwiches.
14. Choucroute Garnie – This is what happens when the French take German food and run with it.
15. Tarte Tatin – Probably the world’s best use for apples.
16. Pastis – I think it’s against the law to play boules without some of this anise-flavored liqueur. Judging from the amount of shelf space it gets in stores, it may be illegal not to have a bottle in the house at all times.
17. Roast chicken – Homemade or bought fresh off the rotisserie, with roasted or mashed potatoes and a green salad, you can’t deny the pleasure of a succulent and satisfying roast chicken dinner. This is what French cooking is all about: great ingredients, simply prepared.
18. Eclair – I bet there isn’t a single bakery in all of France that doesn’t sell these.
19. Lentil Salad– the beautiful, green, caviar-like Puy lentils need little embellishment, but a little bacon, onion, parsley, and vinaigrette never hurt anyone.
20. Entrecôte – This thick beef steak is so omnipresent on Parisian restaurant menus that Nick coined a phrase to indicate one’s appetite: “entrecôte hungry.” As in, “I’m hungry, but not entrecôte hungry.”
21. Escargots – Really, how could I leave off snails?

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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